Years of Love: Measuring a Life After a Loss

Years astound me. Forever etched in my mind a calculation of time, reminders, anniversaries, dates, and birthdays. I still find it hard to believe August 1, 2015, marked the 25th anniversary we lost my beloved sister Margie. To celebrate my 25th birthday in October 1981 marked the last time I saw my beloved sister Jane who passed away November 7, 1981.

I am 59 — longer than the sum total both my sisters lived; Jane passed away at 22 and Margie 35. My daughters are now 29 and 30. Where do the years go? At times so quickly and others an eternity. The void of not sharing and having my sisters present seems grander, more pronounced, checking off each milestone with a minus two.

I struggle turning the number 60 this year. It boggles my mind to think that my daughters have lived longer than my sister Jane lived and almost as long as my sister Margie. I did not grieve for my sisters for 30 years.

There are holes in my memory. Thirty years is a very long time not to mourn. I started when I was 55; that’s more than half my life. In my mind beyond time, Jane lived almost as long as Jane is gone. Time is so hard for me to fathom. I have a daughter who is 30. Milestones, memories, losses, gaps, voids, triggers, how is it possible to wrap my head around it?

Digging and digging deeper making that tunnel in the sand I uncover buried treasure. The jewels I see through a different lens.  The colors no longer black and white more grey and clouds, scary, sad, beautiful, painful, surreal and maturing, and peaceful.

A wise person helped me to reflect and shift the focus on my two sisters for the years we shared; Jane for 22 and Margie for 35. My sisters and I will forever unite a bond so exceptional, irreplaceable, and exclusive despite the complications and challenges. They will always be in my heart and beside me.

There is a beautiful song from the Broadway show Rent entitled “Seasons of Love.” The lyrics spell out what I would love to share in music and loss.

“How do you measure a year in the life?

Remember the love,

Measure in love,

Seasons of love

Measure your live, measure your life in love.”

The words ring true. Love is always with us. I had and will always have my sisters’ love with me. Music for me is so soothing, the lyrics of the song resembling poems.

My cherished sister Margie played the guitar and sang along. I took lessons for about a minute and hated the guitar. I play the piano. My beloved Jane although not musical loved to dance. In my basement for 20 years I housed the three sisters’ eclectic collection of 33 albums that I currently listen to. Jane favored KC and the Sunshine Band and Margie’s leaned to Carole King and James Taylor. I love hearing the old tunes and remember my sisters.

Lyrics of music are a measures of love and I use meaning to surround myself with love, with years, with remembering, with tears, joy, pain and celebration. Music is our connection.

Let the music live in love. Music is a magical tool to express what we feel to measure our love. As I choose the music to skate for Celebration of Sisters, I recently learned that both my sisters loved Carole King’s Tapestry. Although an age difference of five years, their music cemented something they had in common. This year, Celebration of Sisters falls on Jane’s birthday and as I skate to the song “Beautiful,” I will honor my sisters Margie and Jane and reflect how beautiful they certainly are!







Judy Lipson

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I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. I lost my younger beloved sister Jane died at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my older beloved sister Margie passed away at age 35 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia in 1990. I am the sole surviving sibling. As the Founder and Chair of “Celebration of Sisters,” this annual ice skating fundraiser honors and commemorates the lives and memories of my beloved sisters to benefit The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The event is scheduled the first Sunday in November as Jane’s birthday was November 6th and Margie’s November 8th. We celebrate all lost siblings, their legacies as they live on in all of us. Since the inception of Celebration of Sisters in 2011, I have embarked on the journey to mourn the losses of my beloved sisters that had been suppressed for 30 years. The process unmistakably the greatest challenging time in my life proved to be the most empowering, enlightening and freeing. Now that I am allowing my sisters and their memories to return to my heart where they truly belong, I am re-discovering myself, happier and more at peace. I share my love of ice-skating as a skating instructor in the learn to skate programs at the Babson Skating School and Bay State Skating School, and as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Therapeutic Skating Program at The Skating Club of Boston. I live in Boston and am the mother of two grown daughters. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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